« AnteriorContinuar »
T. You have told me nothing of the ther from Scotland nor Switzerland will meeting as a demonstration to other countries. How, think you, will it ap- T. Talking of Switzerland, how did pear to them?
the Switzers do? J. It left on my mind the deep conviction J. They were first-rate. They were
will hear nothing more of the no doubt almost without exception adinvasion of England. In this respect it mirable shots, and could well be entrusted beat the review hollow. That was a with their liberties against a whole grand thing, a noble thing ; but it was army of Zouaves and Turcos. They soldiering, and there are others who can were intelligent, well-conditioned men, play at soldiers besides ourselves. The who quickly learnt to appreciate the French can, the Austrians can, the Prus- English rifle; and I really believe the best sians can; but they can't shoot-I mean, thing that could have happened to them it does not come so natural to them as was the detention of their own weapons it does to us. Why, I stood in a squad in the French Douanes, for it was the of sixteen men, to shoot for the Whit- means of introducing them to a better worth rifles ; perhaps, with three or four weapon. In this way the accident may exceptions, not one of thosc men had bear upon the fortunes of Europe, should ever fired a rifle a short year ago ; and the unequal game of war be tried. yet, as I said before, not a sheep could T. Some objection has been made, I have lived a minute before them at believe, to opening the competition to 500 yards. Why, any four of them all comers, as teaching the foreigner to would have silenced a gun in a couple beat us with our own weapons. or three discharges, by striking dead J. I heard of it; but don't agree every man and horse attached to it. It with the objectors. I believe open comis true, we had the Victorias and the petition is the soul of all excellence ; Inns of Court men in the squad (and and, of all nations, the English are sure right well they shot), and generally, per- to profit by it. But, of all people, the haps, the volunteers who assembled at Swiss should be admitted to share in the Wimbledon, in some sense, may be advantage as a matter of policy ; because, looked upon as picked men ; but you in the game of European politics, their may be sure it was but a matter of sympathies are sure to be with England, small degree, and that in any company
and thus, in giving them a better weapon, or corps you would find the next fifteen we are in fact assisting an ally. or twenty nearly, if not quite, as good T. Were there not some complaints as the men that were sent. Next of the cartridges at the meeting? year I believe 1000 yards will be as 1. Yes, great complaints ; but I was readily and truly gauged as the 500 unable to judge of them, because, as I were then. All our men want now mentioned to you, I had not fired ball is the opportunity of practice. The
The cartridge before. position drill is a truth, and a little T. No doubt the controversy will actual shooting is all that is now needed lead to the best thing being procured in to turn it to account. The north coun- the end; for there is nothing to prevent trymen did better than the south from celerity of loading, which is the object this very cause. With us southerners, of the easy fit, being combined with and particularly with the Londoners, it accuracy of shooting, as soon was a very difficult thing to get at a right measures both in powder and lead range at all, and much interest had to are hit. Did you witness the conclusion be used to get even the selected men a of the contest? shot before the day. When once we J. No, I did not. I was obliged to have got ranges—and it will not now be leave after the rifle given by the Swiss long first-the Saxon eye, and steadiness was shot for. But the practice seems to of hand and temper will be sure to tell, have been admirable. Twenty-four points and you will find the mountaineers nei- obtained out of thirty shots—ten shots
at 800, 900, and 1,000 respectively-won thing for the middle-aged men of this the Queen's prize ; and the victor was a generation to find a new pastime opened young man, not of age—a strong argu- to them, and one in which they can ment in favour of the public school corps, largely utilize the love of sport and exerwhich I should like to see instituted at cise that they cherished in their youth, at
It will be long a question be- a time when cricket and boating must be tween the young and the middle-aged perforce foregone. The rifle is in their men. If “years steal fire from the mind, hands; and they can use it up to a green and vigour from the limb," in rifle- old age, and improve year by year in shooting at least they will impart steadi- the knowledge and practice of their ness and judgment. Still, the keenness piece; and, if the boys beat them, they of sight and the pliancy of body are with will, as
was the case here, have the the youth, and they are wonderful aids satisfaction of being beaten by their in such a contest. It is, however, a great sons.
ON UNINSPIRED PROPHECY.
BY HERBERT COLERIDGE.
UNINSPIRED Prophecy ! The phrase will Greeks and Romans, special institutions probably sound like a contradiction in for the solemn communication of this terms to many readers. From our early important species of information were familiarity with the prophetical writings organized and maintained as an essential of the Bible, we are led so irresistibly part of the state machinery. At a certo associate the power of foretelling tain era, however, in the life of each future events with the presence of a people this general and unhesitating divine and holy afflatus, that we can faith begins to waver ; the scepticism, hardly bring ourselves to admit the which originates in the more educated authenticity of any alleged instances of portion of the community, slowly filters the exercise of the same power, when downward through the several underthey occur beyond the pale of the sacred lying strata, and after a while becomes books.
Yet even the Bible itself, in widely diffused, although a dim notion such cases as that of Balaam, and of not only of the possibility of such knowthe Egyptian and other magicians (of ledge, but also of its continued existence whose business divination formed a con- in certain mysteriously favoured indivisiderable part), and in the various direc- duals at any given epoch, is never pertions and warnings about false prophets haps wholly eradicated. contained in the law,' evidently coun- It is not, however, our intention on tenances a belief that a real power of the present occasion to enter into any seeing into futurity existed, not only in discussion respecting the possible nature chosen individuals of a “peculiar people, and source of this power, or to account but among the heathen also, and in men by any theory of our own for the extraby no means remarkable for sanctity. ordinary influence it has at different And it will be hardly necessary to
times exercised over mankind. We remind the reader, that in the early rather wish to bring together some of history of all nations, the existence of the more striking instances of its operasuch a power under one form or another tion, which may serve to call attention is tacitly assumed,? while in those of to a subject of considerable interest in more advanced civilization, such as the more points of view than one. To any
really philosophical investigation of the Deut. xiii. 1-3. xvii, 20-22.
subject, a much larger accumulation of * Cic. de Div. i. 1, 2.
instances than we at „present possess
would be an indispensable requisite ; " nothing in excess,” &c., or opinions and those here given are merely in- given as to the course to be adopted in tended as a first contribution towards cases of conscience. Another large porsuch a collection. It will be as well, tion consisted of ambiguous answers, however, to remind the reader, that the which could be construed so as to save instances we are about to bring forward the credit of the oracle, whichever way are those of prediction proper, that is to the event fell out; mere quibbles of say, of a distinct foretelling of events language, in fact, such as that given to which do not actually take place till Cresus as to his crossing the Halys, 4 long after the utterance of the pro- and to Pyrrhus, relative to his chance phecy. Mere chance coincidences, such of success in his campaign against Rome;" as are occasionally evolved from the while not a few, which seem more truly names of individuals by some anagram- predictive in character, are cases of fulfilmatic process, or such as are found to ment according to the letter, by means exist now and then between the mean- of some identity of name between two ing of the name of an individual and his
persons or places, one of which was well actual career in life, however striking known, the other not. Of this last sort
, they may seem, must here be passed the well-known prediction as to the
death of our Henry IV. at Jerusalem, inThe Greek oracles naturally come troduced by Shakspeare in the second first for consideration, and among them part of his Henry IV. is a conspicuous those of Apollo clearly have a right to example 6 in modern times, and bears pre-eminence. For although Jupiter an exact analogy to that which deluded and other Gods did a little prophetic the wretched Cambyses into his terrible business for a select set of clients, Ethiopian expedition, by promising him the establishment at Delphi practically that his death-bed should be in Ecbaeclipsed all the others, and almost re- tana.? A predecessor, too, of Pyrrhus duced them to a state of inactivity. on the Epirot throne, Alexander, was Many were deterred from making use of unlucky enough to be the victim of a the older shrines by some uncomfort- precisely similar humbug on the part able or nerve-shaking ceremonial, to of the venerable oracle of Dodona. He which the inquirer was obliged to sub- was told to avoid the river Acheron, mit before a response could be elicited, and as there was a river of some note or by the filthy habits of the priests bearing that name in his own kingdom (as at Dodona): Apollo managed mat- of Epirus, he naturally supposed that he ters with more practical wisdom in these might safely accept an invitation to an respects, besides throwing open gratis to Italian campaign on behalf of the Tarenthe inspection of visitors that magnificent tines, who just then were suffering museum of ancient art, which attested
annoyance from their Lucanian and the superstition and the gratitude of Bruttian neighbours. He ran upon half the ancient world. Yet it is singu- doom, however, as usual ; he found a lar enough, that hardly one unimpeach- trumpery stream calling itself Acheron, able instance of a prediction, truly and in Bruttium, and there sure enough he fairly verified. by the event, can be was killed in the most appropriate quoted out of the multitude preserved manner, by some treacherous Lucanian to us by ancient authors. For in the exiles, while attempting to cross its first place it must be remembered, that swollen waters. These would answer many of the responses of the oracle, we our purpose well enough could we be might say a majority, were mere moral certain, (which we cannot,) that they apothegms, such as “know thyself," were not invented after the event, of
i E.g. Horatio Nelson-Honor est a Nilo. William Noy-I moyl in law..
4 Herod. i. 91. 6 Cic. de Div. ii. 56. * As Demosthenes, Aristides, &c.
5 Act iv. Sc. 4. 7 Herod. ii. 61. 3 Il. xvi. 235.
8 Justin. xii. 3.
which, in most cases, the Delphic estab- driven to take refuge within the walls lishment would be the first to receive -he seems to attach somewhat more intelligence. Probably, as the oracle weight, and suggests an interpretation grew richer and richer, it kept in per- of the oracular fragment, plausible manent pay a ņumber of secret and very enough in itself, but which robs it to special correspondents, and thus secured some extent of its prophetic character. the latest news at the earliest possible His solution is, that it would be most period.
assuredly better for Athens that the plot Perhaps, however, the famous re- of land should remain open, because as sponse given to the Athenian envoys long as it was possible to keep it so, so before the battle of Thermopylæ, that long would it be evident that the exthe “wooden wall” had been granted treme limit of calamity and distress had by Jove to Athene as a last refuge for not been reached. In other words, the the inhabitants of the doomed city, and building would not cause the calamity, the distinct prediction that Salamis but would never take place as a fact till should be a scene of slaughter, some the worst calamity was at hand. months before the Persian fleet was We might go on to cite other similar inactually destroyed there, comes nearer stances; but, as was said before, although to the fulfilment of our conditions than a complete collection of all the oracular any other. In this case we have the responses recorded in the pages of Greek advantage of contemporary testimony writers would amount to many hundreds, to the fact of the prediction and the the number of fortunate fulfilments, in time of its delivery in the person of cases where collusion can be shown to Herodotus; and although we may not have been impossible, is far less than the quite share his reverent faith in these average of probabilities would lead one prophetic utterances, and may suspect to expect. De Quincey, in his excellent that Themistocles had as much to do essay on the Pagan Oracles, to a certain with the inspiration of the Pythoness on extent accounts for this by an ingenious this occasion as Apollo, still the guess theory that the two principal functions was a bold one, and the accuracy of its of the establishment at Delphi were that fulfilment must have struck even those of an universal news-agency office, and in the secret. Neither the place of the that of a national bank, or safe depository battle, nor the victorious issue, were in of money and valuables, which the domesany sense certainties. So in the account tic architecture of the time exposed to of the plague which desolated Athens the of the first burglár who could in the second year of the Peloponnesian use a chisel ; but at the same time he war, Thucydides mentions an ancient certainly understates its activity and prediction, one at least in existence be- vogue as a means of obtaining informafore his own time, which foretold the tion as to coming events. approach of a Dorian war with a pesti- Let us cross the Adriatic and enter lence in its train ;and, notwithstand- the territory of that sublime nation ing his sneering criticism, it is evident whose history was' for so many ages the that the correspondence of the event history of the world, of which in the fulwith the prophecy was sufficiently ness of time they became the masters. noteworthy to cause no small stir in How different is the impression we repeople's minds at Athens. . To another ceive from a survey of their history from recommending that a certain plot of that derived from the pages of Heroground under the Acropolis had better dotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. be left untouched and unbuilt upon — Greece, the component elements of the an injunction which had to be disre- nation seem to be perpetually exerting garded when the whole population were repulsive forces on each other: no combi.
nation is ever stable; while Rome, Herod vi. 141. • 3 Thu. II. 54.
through all the long stages of its rise 3 Thuc. II. 17.
and decline, is ever one, and expands
only by absorptions into a central nu- other more distant and metaphorical or cleus rapidly and irresistibly assimilated, typical, can by any ingenuity find place rather than by mere appendages of here. territory which never lose their original The discovery of America, which character of excrescences, merely adher- modern researches have shown to have ing to the main body, not partaking as been achieved by the Norsemen as early true members of its life and energy. It as the tenth century of our era, 2 was is this uniting tendency ever rivetting anticipated by a Latin poet, who prothe attention on the ancient centre and bably flourished in the first or second; birthplace of the nation that invests although it must be confessed that the their history with such unequalled prophecy is a wide one, and fits its ingrandeur; and we should à priori almost terpretation somewhat loosely. At the expect to find that such a part as it was close of the second act of Seneca's theirs to play on the world's great stage Medea, the chorus end their song with would not be wholly devoid of elements
the lines, of mystery, or unaccompanied, at least in
“ Venient annis sæcula seris, tradition, with dark and portentous in
“Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum dications of a mighty destiny. Accord
“Laxet, et ingens pateat tellus, ingly we do find at the very outset an
“Tethysque novos detegat orbes, augural prediction recorded respecting
“Nec sit terris ultima Thule.” the duration of their empire, which it took twelve centuries to fulfil, but which Thus translated by John Studley in those centuries did fulfil with an exacti
1585 :tude equal to that challenged by com
“ Time shall in fine out breake mentators for the numerical prophecies of
" When ocean wave shall open every the book of Daniel. The firm belief in the foundation of Rome about the middle
realme, of the eighth century before our era,
“The wandering world at will shall open and in the existence of a contempora
lye, neous augury interpreted to predict a
“And Typhis will some newe founde continuous existence of twelve centuries, is a fact which cannot be disputed,
“Some travelers shall the countreys farre whether we look upon Romulus and his
escrye, twelve vulturesas mythical or not;
“ Beyonde small Thule, knowen furthest and it is equally beyond controversy that
at this day.” the deposition of Augustulus, the last of But an old poem in our own language, the western emperors in the middle of the fifth century of our era, coincides composed probably about the middle of
the fourteenth century, will furnish us almost to a year with the expiration of
with a far more remarkable instance. the appointed time. Here the nature of
In the tenth “ Passus," or fytte of the the case at once precludes all possibility Vision of Piers Plouhman, Člergy, one of collusion; and, what is still more curi
of the allegorical personages, after a long ous, we are not concerned to prove the
exposition of the sad state into which actual occurrence of the omen as a fact; religion had then fallen, gives warning the universal and undoubting assump- of the coming, though still distant, tion of its reality by every generation of Romans renders the authenticity of the quoting in their ancient garb :
retribution, in lines which are worth story immaterial. This is probably the most striking instance of the fulfilment
“Ac ther shal come a kyng,
“And confesse yow religiouses, of prophecy recorded in history, and it jeceives additional weight from the con
“And bete you as the Bible telleth sideration that no hypothesis of a double
“For brekynge of youre rule ; fulfilment, one literal and immediate, the
• See the Antiqq. Americanæ, p. xxis et i Cic. de Divin. i. 48. Censorin. de d. N. c. 17. 899. Copenhagen. 1837.